What the hell is going on here? The government appears …

Comment on No to halting Anzac High demolition: tribunal by Mike Gillam.

What the hell is going on here? The government appears to have received some dodgy advice from the Heritage Council (HC) and various public servants. That should be reason enough to send the heritage nomination for Anzac High back to the HC for urgent review. Instead the NT Government is ‘forging ahead’, rumoured to be acting on this flawed advice with reckless and arrogant haste. Why? Surely the government wants to obtain the best advice possible and wants to act in the best interests of our community. If so, let the process run its course without political hindrance and intimidation.

“Saving face” is often quoted to me as the reason Territory politicians and senior bureaucrats are so reluctant to abandon their poorly considered thought bubbles. Really? Are our politicians and public servants so vulnerable and small that ‘saving face’ is all they care about? This rationale doesn’t seem logical to me because demolishing the building as quickly as possible will not save Government the embarrassment of forensic enquiries in the future. Alex Nelson is already well advanced in this regard. Perhaps we need to initiate Freedom of Information procedures if we are ever to fully understand what’s going on behind closed doors. What interests and agendas are at work here? As a starting point I would urge those officials who apparently have limited interest in a thorough and truthful process, who are prepared to squander public assets and care little for the public’s low confidence in the competence and accountability of government to carefully study the public service code of conduct. Yes, massively squander public money! 

I do realise a damages claim might need to be settled with the contractor McMahons and hopefully such a claim can be settled favourably without too much gouging by a “Territory company” with a reputation to protect. I believe the contract for total demolition is $1.8M and the sooner the brakes are applied the smaller the damages claim. Heritage significance aside, I estimate that the two storey building envelope that is Anzac High would have a replacement value of about $10 M. (The opinion of a qualified quantity surveyor would be good). Regardless the site is entirely workable for a suite of community and tourism uses and there’s significant space for additional integrated development. I’m happy to provide a very long list detailing some of the options.

So, I can’t imagine it’s true that heavy machinery is en route to commence demolition given the following facts:

• I’m confident the proponent for heritage listing the Anzac High School, Alex Nelson, is the world expert on this site. He has a formidable reputation as a researcher. That his deeply considered nomination was rejected by the HC beggars belief!
• It’s reported in this article that the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) have obtained independent expert advice confirming the site’s heritage significance!!
• Placing a considered nomination on the public record and seeking responses may further expand the community’s understanding and appreciation of its heritage values!!! 
• A hearing of NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) is scheduled for 1 Nov. a couple of weeks away. This tribunal will be taking a hard look at the process that led to a decision by the Heritage Council NOT to place a nomination for the Anzac High on public exhibition. Bring it on.

Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Council resignations and surprising alliances
A backlash was predictable but I’m surprised by the use of “economic sanctions” on our region!
In the affairs of human relations and community bridge building this is a very, very small action. Clearly some of those skeletons in family cupboards must be rattling.
I’d be surprised if there were any serious threat to Stuart’s statue or his marble form in Adelaide. Mind you, when I think of Stuart it’s not a Daniel Boone frontiersman lookalike that springs to mind but the almost blind and half starved invalid supported on an improvised stretcher between a couple of skeletal horses.
Amazing subject matter for any sculptor.
Stuart is described in Wikipedia as “… a slight, delicately built young man, standing 5’6” tall (168 cm) …” This indefatigable Scotsman and brilliant explorer died in London at the age of 50, destitute and forgotten.
I agree with Hal’s comment that our community has stepped onto a slippery slope but I reckon we’re mature and brave enough to navigate through.
There are other street names that acknowledge historical figures with a chequered past and in some cases it’s their later acts of redemption that are truly inspirational.
Our history would be a blank book if all the flawed characters were expunged so those naive enough to believe in good and evil stereotypes should be careful what they wish for.
The lessons of Willshire include some very brave and honourable Europeans and some murderous native constables with their own agendas.

Council resignations and surprising alliances
A welcome decision, especially given its unanimous support in an often divided chamber.
Can we consider placing beneath the bold new street name, some reference to “formerly Willshire St.” in fine print with a link / QR code etc directing all to Council’s website with a summary of Willshire’s nefarious role in the history of Centralia and the processes that culminated in re-naming the street.

Stuart statue should have King Charley as opposite
A wonderful contribution!

Curfew a child protection measure: Territory Alliance
Thank you Michelle and Elle. All three levels of government (a perfect Alice scenario for blame shifting and buck passing) need to coordinate and invest in our young people. I expected better policy than this from Territory Alliance.

Mparntwe custodians: Lhere Artepe does not speak for us
Agree completely with Arunta Man, Perrule and Alex Hope.

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